With a combination of scholarly and pastoral touch, Professor Ben Witherington has offered an intriguing piece on Hell, though he has not read Rob Bell’s Love Wins: “I have not read the book yet, but I do know the testimony of the President of Fuller Seminary, Richard Mouw, who says the book is all about Jesus and within the bounds of what could be called generous orthodoxy as opposed to stingy orthodoxy.”
Professor Witherington touches on the meaning of “Sheol” and “eternal” in the OT and then of course “Hades,” “Hell/Gehenna” and “eternal” in the New.
Some of his conclusions you would find intriguing. For example, “In 1 Cor. 15, Paul says quite literally that Jesus is raised on Easter “from out of the dead ones”, not merely raised from death, though that is true, but raised from out of the realm of dead persons. This suggests that the dead are still out there, and have not yet been consigned to Hell” (bold added).
But it’s this:
Annihilation or destruction of Satan, Hell and its inhabitants is a possible interpretation of the eschatological endgame, but it is also possible Hell will go on ‘olam wu olam wu olam‘. If the former is true, then the last persons standing are all followers of Christ according to Revelation. Revelation 21.8 seems pretty clear — “But as for the cowardly, the faithless…[etc.], their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death”. Even more telling is the statement in Rev 22.15 which states that after the new heaven has landed on the new earth and the new Jerusalem has been set up, “outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” It would appear from these last two text, that Hell still has a future, even after the new heaven and new earth show up at a theater near you. What this suggests is that love, even divine love, does not always win with everyone, not even in the end, and it breaks the heart of God as it should break ours. read entire post here, bold added
I’ve read the post. But it appears to me that not even Ben Witherington is conclusive at every turn on the matter of hell: annihilationism is still a possibility.
Perhaps I missed something.